As the saying goes, life is not fair. Often, neither is a high net worth divorce. Even if you and your spouse hammer out a financially equitable split of the diverse assets you own, the divorce’s unpredictable emotional effects aren’t as easily compartmentalized and distributed.
Whether you caught your significant other cheating or feel resentful because you sacrificed a budding career to be with someone who now no longer wants to be married to you, you’d like to take positive action to ensure a reasonable separation. In addition, from a strictly financial perspective, you realize that your collective assets (and possible debts), both business and professional, might be substantial and complex.
How should you keep this process grounded and equitable?
A High Net Worth Divorce and Fairness
High net worth divorces generally involve assets like small businesses, professional corporations, real estate holdings, stocks and bonds, antiques, art work, retirement and pension plans. First, determine whether an asset is marital property or the separate property of one of the spouses. Before decisions are made about how to divide marital assets – for instance, at mediation or during a collaborative process – a value should be placed on each asset that reflects a fair assessment. Your attorney might call in experts like appraisers and forensic accountants to help here.
- Appraisers: There are appraisers for real estate, appraisers for jewelry, appraisers for antiques and so forth. They use various methods of determining value depending on the specific assets in question.
- Forensic accountants: Often, one spouse takes care of the couple’s finances. When divorce proceedings begin, the other spouse might have very limited (or even plainly inaccurate) knowledge of what assets they own together or where property is located. A forensic accountant locates all relevant assets so they can be appraised.
After all marital assets have been identified and valued, couples are encouraged to collaborate to come up with their own property settlement. If they are unable to do this, the court will use the same factors used in any divorce when making an equitable distribution, some of which include:
- Contribution of each party to the family.
- Length of the marriage.
- Age and needs of the children.
- Reasons for the divorce.
- Whether either party wasted assets.
- Whether either party tried to hide assets.
- Other relevant factors.
Experienced High Net Worth Divorce Attorneys
Whether your spouse blindsided you with a request to get divorce at dinner one night, or you’ve been weighing whether and how to separate from your partner for months, you probably feel anxious, confused and uncertain about what to expect from the process. Our trusted attorneys have worked with many clients who have portfolios and business interests as complex as their personal lives, and we know how to fight aggressively but fairly for those caught up in process. Please call or email us for a confidential consultation about your strategic options.